Israel urged to lift ban on Palestine TV bureau in Jerusalem

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Israel’s decision to extend its 12-month-old closure of the Palestine TV bureau in East Jerusalem by another six months and the resignation of the TV channel’s Jerusalem correspondent, Christine Rinawi, after repeated police and judicial harassment. The bureau must be allowed to reopen, RSF said, calling the ban and harassment excessive and unjustified.

The Israeli Security Agency announced the six-month extension on 10 November, the first anniversary of the bureau’s closure on the pretext that it had broadcast “anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist content.”

Rinawi resigned after being summoned by the Israeli police on 10 November for the eighth time in the past year. Her last report was about Saeb Erakat, the well-known Palestinian negotiator who died in an Israeli hospital on 10 November several weeks after being hospitalized with Covid-19.

Suspected of violating a ban on working in Jerusalem, Rinawi was threatened with imprisonment if she kept working for Palestine TV, which continues to broadcast in the Palestinian territories from its headquarters in Ramallah. She was finally released after paying a fine of 900 dollars.

When contacted by RSF, Rinawi said that, for the time being, she did not want to talk about the exact reasons for her resignation.

“The repeated bans on Palestine TV in Jerusalem and the harassment of its journalists are totally excessive and unjustified,” said Sabrina Bennoui., the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The endless prolongation of the closure of the Palestine TV bureau in Jerusalem for no clear reason is tantamount to the definitive and arbitrary suppression of TV outlet that contributes to media pluralism in the region. We call for it to be reopened at once.”

When contacted by RSF, the Israeli Security Agency did not respond to our request for information.

Israel is ranked 88th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 13.11.2020